This 2021 musical explores late Joan Joyce's personal life

Bruno Cooke March 28, 2022
This 2021 musical explores late Joan Joyce's personal life


Connecticut sporting icon and softball legend Joan Joyce, famous for once striking out Ted Williams – among other things – died on Saturday, 26 March 2022, at the age of 81. What do we know about Joyce’s personal life and family outside of sports?

Joan Joyce played more than just softball

While many will remember her for her talents on the softball field – she was the sport’s “brightest star for two decades” – Joan Joyce excelled at other sports, too.

At Crosby High School in Waterbury, Connecticut she was a star volleyball player. She later played in amateur leagues and served as an official.

Joyce also pursued basketball, at Chapman College. There, she was a three-time Amateur Athletic Union All-American.

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Source: YouTube [FloSoftball]

On top of that, she took up golf while teaching at Waterbury Catholic High School. She joined the Ladies Professional Golf Tour (LPGA) age 37 having played in only three amateur tournaments. 

As former Connecticut Falcons pitcher Kathy Neal once remarked, Joan Joyce “was the Babe Didrikson Zaharias of her era”.

Legacy Theatre in Branford, CT once honoured Joyce by telling her story in a musical

Starring Kirsten Bjork as the titular icon, Legacy Theatre’s musical production about the life and personal history of Joan Joyce went ahead last summer.

“It’s mind-blowing what this woman has been able to accomplish and is still accomplishing today,” Bjork told NBC Connecticut, in an interview about the production.

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The musical is based on the book Connecticut Softball Legend Joan Joyce, by Tony Renzoni.

Joyce and Renzoni appeared together at Stratford Library in September 2019 to sign copies of the book. Renzoni worked for 38 years for the federal government, and wrote a weekly column for the Connecticut Post.

“As a woman, as an athlete, as an actor,” Bjork continued, “as a female trying to make something of myself, it’s really, really cool to see a strong woman who’s able to do that.”

Joan Joyce recalls striking out Ted Williams in 1961

The Waterbury Hall of Fame issued a profile of Joyce in 1997, in which she recalled striking out Ted Williams by saying: “I threw to him about 10 minutes. He fouled off one or two pitches, but that’s all. He threw his bat down and walked away.” 

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Joseline’s Cabaret | Las Vegas Reunion Official Teaser | Zeus

Joseline’s Cabaret | Las Vegas Reunion Official Teaser | Zeus

A similar story unfolded seven years later, in 1968, demonstrating Joyce’s legendary pitching ability. 

She was 81 when she died. She was born on 18 August 1940 in Waterbury, Connecticut. 

Of the musical about her personal sporting history and life, Joan Joyce said, “It really means a lot to still be able to do that and still have people remember me. That’s probably the biggest thing.”

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Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.